This piece is brought to you by Fernwood but is totally all my own words and story – Mel x
I’ve always been what you’d call a ‘moody’ girl. Ever since I was really little, I would often swing between emotions really quickly – one minute I’d be laughing with tears streaming down my face and in a blink, those tears turned from happy to sad and I’d be sobbing. Over the years my mood swings have been put down to many things (hormones, stress, the fact that I’m a textbook Gemini) but it’s only since I’ve gotten older and noticed that the emotional pendulum has spent less time swinging and more time getting jammed in the shitty, darker places, that I’ve realised that I was more than just a ‘moody’ person.
For me, unbearable anxiety is always the kick-off point and if I don’t address it soon enough it can spiral very quickly into depression. I’ve been on and off medication a couple of times, but I’m always looking for other ways to help nip this shit in the bud with small, manageable changes. Food is a massive one for me, because it’s so easy to be totally unmotivated to make healthy choices when snuggling into a packet of potato chips on the couch – but those choices often leave me feeling yuck in myself and my body and give me practically zero of the stuff I really need.
I’m not about cutting anything out of your diet – eating food you fancy is one of the best things on the planet, but there are some foods we should up the ante with because clever people have proven that they have the ability to boost your mood and give your gut the good stuff it needs and deserves. So here is a list of 10 crackers.
Mounting evidence suggests that there’s a link between deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids and mental health issues such as depression. In a study published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, an analysis of 150,278 participants showed that those who consumed higher quantities of fish showed less symptoms of depression. So, get it in you! Next time you’re at the market or your local supermarket, stock up on oily fish such as salmon, anchovies, mackerel and sardines.
You get so much bang for your buck with these babies, as a measly three of these wonder nuts provides your recommended daily intake of the mineral selenium. Selenium is super important because studies show that those of us who are low in it suffer increased rates of anxiety, depression, fatigue and irritability.
Spinach and green leafy veg:
The very excellent thing you’ll find in veggies of the green variety is the B vitamin folate, which has been shown to play a really important role in our overall mental health. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that people suffering from depression had lower levels of folate in their blood. Research has shown that a deficiency in folate may weaken the metabolism of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline in the body, all of which are neurotransmitters that can really affect your mood. Other than spinach, look for broccoli, avo, edamame and Brussels sprouts to get your folate fill.
How good is porridge on a cold morning? Apart from tasting bloody delicious, oats contain selenium (like brazil nuts) and are naturally low on the glycemic index, which means they release energy into the bloodstream slowly to keep your mood even, as opposed to the peaks and troughs you get from high GI foods. Look for the steel-cut variety that are as minimally processed as possible for mass impact.
This one won’t take much convincing ‘cos it’s delish AF, but if you’re after another reason to add a block to your trolley, get this: a recent study of 30 people who received 40g of dark chocolate each day for two weeks showed a decrease in anxiety levels and overall stress. The magic is in the release of endorphins from the brain, which boosts serotonin (the ‘feel-good hormone’) levels. Look for the stuff that’s 70% cocoa (or more) for max benefits.
Good news if you’re a fan of probiotic-laden foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha or good quality yogurt. A recent study published in the journal Psychiatry Research points to a link between probiotic rich foods and a decrease in social anxiety symptoms. There is also so much ongoing research about the brain-gut connection that factoring these goodies into your diet is something you should definitely consider.
Chicken and turkey:
Apart from being affordable and super versatile, there’s SO much goodness to be found in the humble chicken and turkey! Both birds contain the amino acid tryptophan, which your super smart bod uses to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that can have a serious impact on your mood. It also helps make melatonin, which is a biggie for regulating sleep. Add the amino acid tyrosine (a hormone that makes adrenaline, of which low-levels are linked to depression) and you’ve got a mood-boosting superfood.
Eggs are one of those foods that have been a little on the controversial side over the years, but there’s no doubt now that they’re seriously great for you. As well as being high in vitamins D and B12 and protein, eggs contain a nutrient called choline. Choline has been proven to improve mood, support the nervous system, help produce neurotransmitters and that all important antioxidant, selenium. Poach ‘em, boil ‘em, scramble ‘em, bake ‘em, fry ‘em – just get them in you!
Carbs have gotten a really bad rap over the years, but it appears that they are indeed good for you – as long as you choose the right ones. Whole grains naturally high in fibre and minimally processed like brown rice, quinoa, amaranth and steel-cut oats are chockers in B vitamins, which are vital for brain health. While vitamin B1 and B5 have epic benefits of their own, it’s B6 (which helps convert tryptophan into serotonin) and B12 (which is vital for the production of neurotransmitters) that make the biggest impact on your overall mood.
Once thought of as a bit of a hippy-dippy ingredient, chia seeds are everywhere these days and for good reason. These little balls of nutrition are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and contain other nutrients such as fibre, iron, calcium and protein. Better still, chia seeds are a great source of magnesium, a mineral that is an excellent relaxant that can help reduce anxiety and stress in the body.
Introduce or increase these bad boys in your diet and reap the glorious benefits. While we are chatting about benefits there is a truck load of benefits to getting your mitts on a FREE Fernwood Wellness Pass. The food you fuel your bod with is one aspect of wellness but exercise is another essential part that also boosts your mood. There are FIIT30 sessions if you want to go hardcore, or yoga and meditation classes that will stretch and Zen you right out. Whatever your wellness goals, you can find it at Fernwood.